The Sochi Network

Sochi Summary Day 12: Ole the great as the Finns rise again

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What happened to Finland?

Finland stand at sixth on the all-time Winter Olympics medal table but today was their first gold medal since 2002. Since Salt Lake City, Great Britain have won two, Australia have taken three.

So what happened in the last 12 years.

A doping scandal hit Finland when they hosted the Nordic World Ski Championships in 2001, resulting in six disqualifications after they tested positive for use of a banned blood plasma expander.

The scandal resulted in the resignation or termination of coaches, doctors and the president of the Finnish Ski Association in a country where cross country skiing stars are treated as national heroes.

One of the sextet Mika Myllyla, who won six Olympic medals including gold in the 30k in 1998 in Nagano, took his own life at the age of 41 in 2011.

The knock-on effect of the budget cuts was a five-medal showing in Vancouver - the fewest medals the country had earned in the Winter Games since 1972.

However the Finnish Olympic Committee spent more than 5 million euros since the 2010 debacle in hopes of improving on that and it paid off as they won the men's team sprint in Cross Country.

GOOD DAY

Ole Einar Bjoerndalen - The Norwegian became the most-successful Winter Olympian after winning gold in the biathlon mixed relay. He took over on the third leg one second down and then passed over to Emil Hegle Svendsen 43.1 seconds ahead. Svendsen did the rest and it meant the 40-year-old passed compatriot Bjoern Daehlie as the most successful Olympian of all time with eight gold medals, four silvers and one bronze. Bjoerndalen, who also has 19 world championship titles, won his first Olympic gold medal at the 1998 Games in Nagano. Call him the Michael Phelps of snow.

The Wild couple - Alena Zavarzina won a bronze medal for Russia in the women’s snowboard parallel giant slalom then 10 minutes later, her husband stole the show by winning men's gold. Vic Wild is not exactly a Russian name you cry, yes the 27-year-old is from Washington State but became a Russian citizen in 2012 when he married the former world champion. However Wild has not yet learned the language and said: “My team-mates helped me so much. I don’t think many of them like me, but I really appreciate it.” They are the first married couple to win a medal in the same sport since Raphael Poiret for France and his spouse Liv Grete won matching silver medals in the biathlon relays in 2002.

Ted Ligety - After finishing eighth in the super combined and 14th in the super-G, having arrived in southern Russia as world champion in both, the American had a lot to prove. But 'Ted Shred' answered the critics as he won the first American Alpine Skiing gold medal in Sochi. The 29-year-old also became the first non-European winner of men's giant slalom at the Winter Games. From a pure skiing standpoint, there is no one in the world that skis the turns with more precision than the man from Salt Lake City who builds his legacy with a second Olympic gold.

BAD DAY

Tim Tscharnke - Was leading the men's cross-country team sprint for Germany as they headed into the stadium on the final lap. However with a medal guaranteed and a chance of gold up for grabs, Sami Jauhojaervi went over the tip of his skis and he fell, disrupting Russia's Nikita Kriukov in the process. Jauhojaervi went on to win and the International Ski Federation rejected a protest by Germany. "The Finnish guy crossed my line, that's why I fell," Tscharnke told reporters after Germany finished seventh. "I simply couldn't do anything." The winner had a different opinion, saying: "It happened just 300 meters before the finish line. The skier who is the first has a right to choose the track. And it was me."

Stefan Luitz - There was more German inefficiency earlier in the day. World champion Ted
Ligety produced a lightning fast first run in the men's giant slalom and no-one was within a second of his time until Luitz was 11th down the mountain. But he inexplicably straddled the 57th and final gate and crossed the line on one ski - still only 0.59 seconds down, a time that would have comfortably put him into second position going into the second run. The 21-year-old thew away his other ski and despondently laid in the finish area after looking at his time.

Vladimir Putin - The Russian President had taken great interest in the ice hockey tournament, suiting up for a practice session with the players and watching when Russia took on the United States on Saturday. But Finland's clinical 3-1 quarter-final victory put an end to Putin's plans for a return to the Bolshoy stands when the last gold medal is handed out on Sunday. Russia's ice hockey gold drought has now been extended to six Olympics after they also lost in the quarter-finals in 2010. Putin has now sent naval destroyers to Finnish waters around the North Sea (Note last sentence is not true……yet)

BRITS IN ACTION

Skip David Murdoch produced a draw to four feet with the final stone of the match as his team of Greg Drummond, Scott Andrews and Michael Goodfellow reached the men's curling final with a dramatic 6-5 win over Sweden. They will face Canada for gold on Friday.

The women’s rink of skip Eve Muirhead, Anna Sloan, Vicki Adams and Claire Hamilton lost 6-4 to Canada in their semi-final so will meet Switzerland for bronze on Thursday morning.

Pilot Paula Walker and brakewoman Bex Wilson stayed in their overnight position of 12th in the women's bobsleigh.

Jenna McCorkell, who was 29th in Vancouver, improved on that performance with a score of 48.34 in the short programme of the women's figure skating.

Andrew Musgrave and Andrew Young withdrew from the men's team sprint. Young has tachycardia, which affects the rate at which the heart beats, and had to abandon the race at the start of the second leg.

GOLD MEDALS AWARDED TODAY

Snowboarding - Ladies' Parallel Giant Slalom: Patrizia Kummer (Switzerland)
Snowboarding - Men's Parallel Giant Slalom: Vic Wild (Russia)
Alpine Skiing - Men's Giant Slalom: Ted Ligety (United States)
Cross Country Skiing - Ladies' Team Sprint Classic: Norway
Cross Country Skiing - Men's Team Sprint Classic: Finland
Speed Skating - Ladies' 5000m: Martina Sablikova (Czech Republic)
Biathlon - Mixed Relay: Norway
Bobsleigh - Women's: Canada I

IMAGE OF THE DAY

Unhappy fans watch a screen showing the ice hockey game between Russia and Finland.

TWEET OF THE DAY

Russia's ice hockey defeat would have hurt Vladimir Putin.

DON'T MISS TOMORROW

The women's figure skating is one of the blue-riband events of the Olympics and comes to a finale with the free skate. Defending champion Kim Yuna will be skating for the last time before retiring at the age of 23.

BIG NAMES IN ACTION

Eric Frenzel - Normal hill gold medalist Eric Frenzel had a virus and a high temperature before the Large Hill event and faded in the closing stages but the German aims for a second gold in the Nordic Combined team relay.

Jennifer Jones - Curling is a religion in Canada and the other 'Jenny Jones' aims to end their Olympic barren run in the women's final. They have not taken gold since the inaugural event in Nagano.

Hayley Wickenheiser - She is widely considered the greatest female ice hockey player in the world and looks to take Canada to their fourth gold medal in five attempts in the final against the US.

YOU HAVEN'T HEARD OF THEM BUT YOU SHOULD HAVE

Maddie Bowman - The US won the inaugural men's Freestyle Skiing half pipe event and the 20-year-old, who wears purple underwear before every competition, is favourite to win the women's version after back-to-back X Games victories.

GOLD MEDALS ON OFFER

10:41: Freestyle Skiing - Men's Ski Cross
11:00: Nordic Combined - Team
13:30: Curling: Women's
15:00: Figure Skating - Ladies
17:00: Ice Hockey: Women's
17:30: Ladies' Ski Halfpipe